The Los Angeles Rams have just completed their first draft while being based in LA since 1994. By all accounts and everything considered, it was a successful one.
The Rams landed their new franchise quarterback in Jared Goff with the first overall pick. After trading up with the Titans, the Rams now believe they have their guy for the next 10-15 years. But in trading to pick one from 15, the Rams would go without picking again until the fourth round, at which point they had two picks ready for use. With obvious holes and/or depth issues at tight end and receiver, the Rams immediately addressed these areas.
First the Rams GM Les Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher drafted - who I believed to be the second best tight end in the draft -- Tyler Higbee. The Rams then traded down with the Bears on their next fourth round pick, adding another sixth round choice in the process. After trading down the Rams selected Pharoah Cooper. I like Cooper's play-making ability with the ball in his hands, and he could develop into a solid slot receiver.
With the second pick in the sixth round, the Rams came back to the tight end position. For myself, Temmarick Hemingway was a late riser. But ultimately he was someone I viewed as a legitimate potential late round steal. When the dust settled I had him as my fourth best tight end. It wouldn't be a Jeff Fisher draft without the addition of a defensive player. The Rams next took Josh Forrest. Forrest came before honing in on another double dipping opportunity. With their final pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Rams selected wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Overall, a very interesting and solid draft. The Rams did a good job of filling needs and building depth on an offense that simply lacked in those areas. They added size and explosiveness in one calm swoop. But now, how will these players be used...
...he is already the best quarterback on the team.
Jared Goff -- Goff is an easy one. He will likely be under center come week one. It wouldn't be a total shocker if Case Keenum began the season as the starter. Furthermore, if Keenum plays well, it wouldn't be a shock at all if they let Goff sit. Letting a young QB sit and learn the ropes is ideal for any team. However, I am not sold that will be the case. Goff has the ability to come in and play immediately as he is already the best quarterback on the team. If this is the case, expect the Rams to begin the season very slow with their play calling, and running the ball at a very high rate.
Tyler Higbee -- Higbee was one of my favorite players in this draft. I wanted this guy to be a Ram as much as I wanted anyone. Here's why: The Rams can run the football extremely well between Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin. They also can stretch the field with Kenny Britt. Austin also does a great job on screens drawing attention to the outside. What does all this mean for a seam stretching tight end with great hands and athletic ability? It's simple he's left one on one more times than not with a terribly over-matched linebacker. Higbee reminds me so much of a mix between Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen. If not for the legal troubles, I think he goes in the second round. Though Lance Kendricks is the unquestioned number one tight end, Higbee is a legit candidate to notch 35 receptions as a rookie.
Pharoah Cooper -- Mr. Cooper is a bit of a gem here. At the combine he ran slow running in the mid 4.6 range. This undoubtedly killed his stock. I think before his poor showing in the most overrated drill at the combine -- though still important -- he was viewed as a late second early third round pick. However, Cooper plays much faster on tape. Hence the reason everyone was disappointed. It wasn't the same case as a Laquon Treadwell, whom which the world expected to run slower than ideal. On film Cooper is a quick and fast guy as opposed to just being quick. Cooper impacts the game in a lot of ways through receiving, running, even throwing the ball. He's similar to Tavon in that regard. His ability to make plays after the catch and play as big as he does, reminds me a lot of Golden Tate. Les Snead is already on record saying after the Rams final pick that Cooper will play inside (slot). He could become the ideal slot man with Gurley and Austin eating up the defenses attention.
Temmarick Hemingway -- As mentioned above Hemingway was a late riser for me. But just weeks before the draft, I began to really draw a liking to this kid. His receiver like skills at the tight end position, and running back mentality and play style post catch is exciting. He quickly made a jump up my rankings. He's an extremely physical player, who breaks a lot of tackles with the ball in his hands. However, those broken tackles only come when someone can actually touch him. Hemingway is a very quick twitch and fast tight end. He's a solid route runner, and more than willing blocker. He can put his hand in the dirt or line up out wide. I can without question see a "big redzone" package that has him out wide with Kenny Britt, Higbee on the line, and Kendricks either in the backfield at fullback, wing, or on the opposite end from Higbee. The Rams should win a lot of jump ball situations with the average ht/wt being 6'3 235.
Josh Forrest -- This was the one pick I wasn't crazy about. At this point you're simply not looking to fill any holes at linebacker. This was a pick that clearly came from the BPA strategy. There was no need for the addition of a linebacker. Forrest is likely headed for a camp battle for a spot on special teams. With Daren Bates leaving for Oakland this offseason -- admittedly a huge loss -- there is a spot on the special teams to fill. However, I believe a pick at running back, defensive line, or the secondary would have gone further.
"you have no fucking clue do you?"
Mike Thomas -- Okay, here's the guy I've been waiting to discuss. Admittedly, I didn't watch any of his tape before the pick was announced. I have a friend who's dad is a Southern Miss alum, and raved about this kid non-stop for the last six or seven months. So of course my friend mentioned him to me repeatedly. He kept telling me to check him out, but I never got around to it. He was sold that this kid would be picked in the second round, and I still never got around to checking him out. After the pick I said wait a min, isn't that who I was supposed to be looking at. Before I could even open my laptop, my phone was blowing up. It was my friend. He was with his dad at Hooters and had me on speaker phone. His dad said -- while laughing -- "you have no fucking clue do you?" My friend piggy backed on that saying, "you guys just got the steal of the draft."
After talking to those guys, I watched tape on him for roughly two hours. And then again the next day. I have to say, they were right. Thomas was a legitimate combine snub, and he is the definition of a player flying under the radar. He has solid size at 6'1" 200, closer to 6'2". He runs extremely well both before and after the catch. Thomas looks to be a damn good route runner. And he makes contested catches look easy. His run after catch ability is worthy of a second round grade alone. He's not an easy guy to tackle as he's quick and powerful. Snead also confirmed that he will be lining up outside. He could be used as a red zone threat early on as his jump ball and contested catch skills are off the charts. It's still early and I have a lot more studying to do, but I like what I see, and I am fool for not looking into him earlier. My mistake....
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love undrafted free agents. I love that diamond in the rough that makes it big. But most of all I love camp battles. And no one brings more battles to the table than an UDFA. They create story lines, and with NFL Hard Knocks coming to town there will be some good ones this year. But most of all, these are four guys I think will either make the team, or get damn close,and should steal the show during camp...
Aaron Green -- I have been very high on Green all season and offseason. I love his skill set. He has -- in my honest opinion -- the best vision in the draft. He sees the hole as well as anyone, and his open field running is up there with the best. He makes unbelievable cuts, and has the quicks to embarrass anyone in the blink of an eye. He has great hands and can make an immediate impact as a pass catcher for any team. He has the ability to even line up in the slot. He's similar to Shane Vereen but shiftier and he has far superior vision running the ball.
The magic number is 74!
Michael Jordan -- I think by now everyone knows I wanted to see Jordan in the horns. I'm very high on this kid. And his name alone will make him an absolute star on Hard Knocks. He wore 23 in college, and with Rodney McLeod departing for the Eagles, the number 23 is available. It will only add to the story if he gets it. Aside from being destined for his 15 minutes of fame come august, Jordan is a damn good football player. The magic number is 74! Yes that's right 74, it's the number total plays where Jordan touched the ball in some form, preventing the catch. He finished his four year career with 16 interceptions and 58 passes broken up. Those are insane numbers for ball production. And technically it puts his ball skills up there with the absolute best players in the draft. Then again he was a former wide receiver, as he came to Missouri Western labeled as an athlete. He can play both corner and safety and his versatility and ball skills will make him a hard man for Fisher to move on from as those are two things he loves. The only area he needs to really show well in which to date has not been apart of his game, is physicality. Despite his size at 6'1" 200 lbs, he doesn't bring it as much as one would assume. That will have to change in this Gregg Williams ran defense...
Paul McRoberts --McRoberts is someone I labeled as a sleeper prospect back in January. As a player viewed as a sixth round prospect at best when the draft process began back during the Sr Bowl, McRoberts did himself no favors running an extremely poor 40 of 4.69. Again, this drill is terribly overrated, but it does carry some importance. However, much like Cooper, McRoberts plays much faster than his tested time. And most of all, whether or not he creates separation is kind of a moot point in this instance. One of the reasons McRoberts was talked about so much in the draft community is because of his ability to make jaw dropping catches even with defenders draped all over him. The Battle at receiver will be a very good one. McRoberts will be battling for both the final receiver spot and a spot on the practice squad.
Brian Randolph -- Randolph could be the next Rodney McLeod. I have to admit, I was shocked he went undrafted. He was another player that was a late riser for me. I thought for sure he would be a fourth or fifth round pick. Randolph is a physical and big safety with above average ball skills. He takes good angles, and he's a solid tackler. He's a much bigger safety than McLeod, and is definitely a name to watch during the camp battle in the secondary. Receiver will be a good one, but the secondary will be the best. The battle at safety and corner is going to be one for the ages.
Aside from Jared Goff, who are you most looking forward to seeing this summer?